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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan

Joint US-Afghan patrol

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An Afghan policeman stands guard as he carries his weapon decorated with colourful stickers during a joint U.S.-Afghan military clearing operations in Nagahan district in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan

Some officer would rip you a new one if an American showed up with his piece bearing stickers.

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

Army general charged with rape, forcible sodomy

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Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces possible courts martial on charges that include forced sex, wrongful sexual conduct, violating an order, possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed, and misusing a government travel charge card and filing fraudulent claims…

Defense officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details on the case.

Sinclair, who served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan, was sent home in May because of the allegations, the officials said…

The charges were announced at a brief news conference Wednesday at Fort Bragg, the sprawling U.S. Army base in North Carolina that is home to the 82nd Airborne.

After reading a prepared statement, base spokesman Col. Kevin Arata refused to take questions. Reporters were told all questions would have to be made in writing and that no response was likely to come until the following day.

The next step will be an Article 32 investigation, including a preliminary hearing to determine if the matter should go to trial. No date has been set for the hearing, which Arata said would be open to the public…

Sinclair…who has been in the Army for 27 years, was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan. He had also served two tours in Iraq, as well as a tour in the first Gulf war.

It’s rare for an Army general to face court martial. There have been only two cases in recent years.

Was this behavior something new – has he been taking advantage of rank to protect himself for years?

The biggest problem with courts martial of officers ranking this high is that they can demand a jury exclusively of their peers by rank. So, the pool is small and dispersed around the globe. And I would wonder about their willingness to bash fellow brass.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

This is not how I want to remember Motherly Love!

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Mom…

Lawrence, Ohio — Authorities say a woman accused of stealing her son’s state and federal income tax refunds while he was serving his country in Iraq and Afghanistan was arrested on felony warrants…following a traffic stop in Brewster.

Jennifer L. Fletcher, 42, was booked into the Stark County Jail on charges of identity fraud, forgery and two counts of theft, said Lawrence Township Police Chief Mark Brink.

Fletcher reportedly was stopped by Brewster police after officers did a license-plate check and discovered the vehicle she was driving had been reported stolen out of Akron. After the stop, Fletcher was transferred to the custody of Lawrence Township police and interviewed by Sgt. Paul Stanley.

She admitted to taking the money,” Brink said. “It was a good stop by Brewster, and a good job by our guys getting a confession out of her.”

According to court records, Fletcher withdrew roughly $7,500 from Scott Davis’ bank account between the fall of 2010 and the spring of 2011. The theft occurred after Fletcher reportedly agreed to file her son’s taxes while he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army.

Court records show Fletcher used her son’s personal information to obtain checks in his name, then cashed them after forging his signature. Fletcher also is accused of depositing nearly $1,400 of Davis’ state and federal income tax refunds into her account to pay bills.

Wow! A contemptible series of crimes on just about any level you might consider.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Counter-insurgency lessons from Vietnam – We remember how well that worked out!

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The rise in so-called insider attacks by rogue Afghan security forces has highlighted the perils of joint operations in counter-insurgency. But former US soldier David Donovan, who fought in Vietnam, says lessons learnt long ago have been forgotten.

I was in Vietnam because the United States had decided to assist an ally in fighting an insurgency stimulated and supplied from across international boundaries. The rights and wrongs of our intervention were a matter of vigorous debate, but that debate was not mine.

I was an Army officer trained in counter-insurgency and I was in Vietnam to lead a small advisory team in a remote village near the Cambodian border. We were doing counter-insurgency focused on two things – improving village security and encouraging local development.

Improving security meant improving the fighting skills of the local militia. They were poorly equipped and poorly led, neither of which helped morale. Improving their fighting skills meant going into combat with them, fighting beside them and learning first hand what it means to fight a guerrilla war. Encouraging development meant helping local officials initiate projects meant to improve community life.

The main enemies to security were the local guerrillas.

The main enemy to development was a corrupt bureaucracy…

So you might imagine my concern during the past decade as my country has made its way into two counter-insurgency wars at the same time and has bumped first into one problem then another. Our ineptness at the enterprise has been frustrating because the difficulties reported have seemed so predictable.

I know what it means to do counter-insurgency. I know what it means to do war in the village, and I know from the outside looking in how large US units, simply because of their size and American nature, can perturb a local culture and make friends into enemies without really meaning to.

And counter-insurgency is not won by firepower alone. It is won by a government attracting the loyalty of its own people.

RTFA for all the anecdotes David Donovan includes. If you don’t expect to see what you’re going to see, you weren’t paying attention when the US tried to create a regime in VietNam – you certainly haven’t been paying attention to Afghanistan for the past 11 years.

He skips the part about being invited in by a claque in VietNam smaller than the Tea Party. He skips the part about fighting against an “enemy” that supported allied troops during World War 2; but, dared to continue their fight against colonial Europe after the war.

You’re left at the end to consider on your own a comparison of the mess we left behind in VietNam when we were driven out by Vietnamese soldiers, after all – compared to the mess we obviously will leave behind in Afghanistan. Money and lives, American and Afghan, soldier and civilian, poured down the rathole of imperial arrogance, once again.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

NATO pullback heightens doubts about Afghan strategy

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NATO’s decision to scale back joint operations with Afghan forces may protect the lives of Western troops increasingly targeted by “insider attacks,” but it raises troubling new questions about President Barack Obama’s strategy to stabilize Afghanistan.

After ramping up Afghan security forces at a breakneck rate to allow for a drawdown of Western troops, NATO is coming to grips with a rash of deadly assaults by Afghan recruits who turn their guns on Western allies. Muslim rage over a film insulting the Prophet Mohammad has further stoked the risk.

The White House and NATO leaders have stressed that the suspension of some mentoring operations announced on Tuesday is only a temporary step, limited in scope, that does not alter America’s withdrawal timeline. It applies to front-line missions involving units smaller than an 800-strong battalion, and even then, there will be exceptions…

But James Dubik, a retired lieutenant general who oversaw the training of Iraq’s security forces, warned that the move would undoubtedly act as a drag on training of Afghan forces, an urgently needed step to prepare them for the time when most NATO combat troops have gone home at the end of 2014…

How much of an impact the restrictions have depends on how long the policy is maintained, he said…

Marine General John Allen, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan, said last month that about a quarter of the attacks can be blamed on the Taliban, both by direct infiltration of Afghan forces and coercion of Afghan troops to attack their NATO counterparts.

Other attacks are attributed to disputes between Afghan troops and their foreign partners, or chalked up to the violence that comes with the trauma of a decade of war.

And who gets the credit for that?

Bush and Cheney invaded. Obama followed the “guidance” of Pentagon types who said they could wind it down quickly and easily. Now, we all get to see how well that is working out.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 18, 2012 at 10:00 pm

NATO air strike kills eight women in Laghman Province

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Bodies of some of the women killed in the air strike – on the way to hospital morgue

At least eight women have died in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman, local officials say…NATO has conceded that between five and eight civilians died as it targeted insurgents, and offered condolences.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai “strongly condemned” the deaths and has sent officials to the area to investigate…

Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the Isaf international forces, said between five and eight civilians could have been killed, and said an investigation was under way…

He told the BBC that a group of some 45 insurgents had been targeted by an ISAF unit, and many had been killed…

At least seven women were also reported to have been injured. Provincial health director Latif Qayumi said some of them injured were girls aged as young as 10.

The Laghman governor’s office said a number of civilians had gone to the mountains to collect wood and nuts from a forest in the Noarlam Saib valley, a common practice in the area…

In August, UN figures suggested the number of civilians killed and injured in the first half of 2012 had fallen 15% on the same period of 2011…Analysts said increased sensitivity on both sides about the impact of civilian deaths had led to more carefully targeted attacks.

In his statement, President Hamid Karzai expressed his “sorrow” over the incident, saying he “strongly condemns the airstrike by Nato forces which resulted in the deaths of eight women”.

I’m a supporter of risking technology in battle instead of human beings. The context of war and the politics that obviously have failed – leading to war – are a separate group of questions.

Regardless, the use of airborne technology demands information on the ground surpassing whatever it was that was used to justify this air strike. This wasn’t a latency problem lasting a few seconds at the speed of radio communications. This was someone making a decision based on inadequate data about civilians and Taliban in the same wooded area.

Either the rules of engagement must be ratcheted down to a level allowing for humanity – or information gathering has to improve. Results like this are unacceptable by any standard.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 17, 2012 at 6:00 am

Who would oppose a jobs bill for veterans? Yup – you guessed it!

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Congressional Republicans, resolute in their commitment to deny the Democrats anything that looks like an accomplishment in an election year, have spent the week obstructing passage of the Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012. It’s a perfectly inoffensive bill from Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat, meant to increase hiring and job training for veterans, especially those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Who could oppose hiring more veterans as cops, firefighters and national-parks workers? Who could be against helping veterans apply their military training to earn civilian occupational licenses? The unemployment rate for new veterans hit nearly 11 percent in August, compared with 8.1 percent nationwide. Veterans and active-duty soldiers are committing suicide at alarming rates. The men and women who defend America in uniform are 1 percent of the population. Why shouldn’t the 99 percent give them a hand?

I’ll let the Republicans explain.

Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says it is dishonorable and cowardly to help veterans find jobs when there are more important things (what?) to do

Rand Paul of Kentucky went further, saying he would block the bill until Pakistan freed Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the United States find Osama bin Laden…

Ms. Murray…has tried to make her bill as bipartisan as possible, by incorporating wholesale additions from Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican. The Senate could have rallied behind this bill, shown its dedication to the troops, and been done with it by now. But Democrats will have to pass this bill the hard, slow way, with repeated large votes overcoming Republican procedural objections…Or it might be killed by Republicans committed to making a bigger point about honor, valor, sacrifice and obstruction.

There hasn’t been a bloc of cowards, bigots and liars so infesting Congress like poison maggots since the days of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. A sleazy group of politicians about as unAmerican as they come.

The Party-formerly-known-as-Republican is out to raise the bar of those years of racism, reaction and indolence. Nothing concerns their stony little hearts more than opposing any legislation offered by our sort-of-Black president and members of his party. Even at the expense of screwing our veterans returning home to unemployment and diminished opportunities.

Opportunities diminished, I might add, courtesy of the previous batch of conservative ideologues.

Written by Ed Campbell

September 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

First openly gay officer receiving public promotion to flag rank

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Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith and her wife, Tracey Hepner

An Army officer being promoted to brigadier general openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military.

The officer, Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith, 49, a 26-year veteran of the Army, was promoted in a ceremony at the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The star was affixed by Tracey Hepner, who was a co-founder last year of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which “provides support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families,” according to its Web site.

The Army said that General Smith was not available for an interview on Sunday. However, she said in a statement that the Defense Department had made sexual orientation a private matter, but that “participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader.”

Sue Fulton, a spokeswoman for OutServe, a two-year-old organization of lesbians and gay men in the military, said Sunday that it was “highly unlikely” that General Smith was the only gay officer of her rank. She called General Smith’s public acknowledgment significant.

“I would say that it’s important to recognize ‘the first,’ because then the next person doesn’t have to be first,” said Ms. Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate. “Once we get over each ‘first,’ each hurdle of ‘Well, that’s never been done before,’ it makes it a nonissue going forward.”

As a colonel, General Smith was deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011 as the chief of Army Reserve Affairs. She currently serves in Washington as the deputy chief of the Army Reserve.

Overdue – and Sláinte!

Written by Ed Campbell

August 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Pentagon, Congress and other idiots consider more bombers, submarines stationed in the Pacific

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Over a century of lies – and they haven’t come up with anything new!

Pentagon planners will consider adding bombers and attack submarines as part of a growing U.S. focus on security challenges in the Asia-Pacific…

“We will take another look” at sending more such muscle to the strategic hub of Guam in the western Pacific, now that this has been recommended by an independent review of U.S. regional military plans, Robert Scher, deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, told lawmakers.

U.S. strategy calls for shifting military, diplomatic and economic resources toward the region after a decade of land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sparked by the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon…and a lot of lies at the behest of Bush and Cheney.

The Defense Department, however, must weigh the issue from a broad global perspective and take into account competing requirements, Scher testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services subcommittee on readiness…

The central geostrategic uncertainty that the United States and its allies and partners face in the region “is how China’s growing power and influence will impact order and stability in the years ahead,” the CSIS review said.

All these shit-for-brains tin soldiers figure the American people are too damned dumb, too ignorant to stop another march into Asia carrying the American flag. They know they can count on an obedient Congress. So many of you who marched against the VietNam War have to remember that – eventually – the Bozos in Washington brought our troops home. That wasn’t voluntary on their part. They were afraid of losing control.

Fact remains, the rest of the world hasn’t forgotten what our policies bring to every region of the world we’ve made part of our garrison. We have over 700 bases in about 180 countries, right now. Even though brainwashed American taxpayers don’t raise a peep about the cost – the rest of the world looks offshore and views our warships as one more threat from the cops of the world.

I jokingly say I’m not voting for Obama; but, against Romney. I’m voting against the evil of two lessors. Obama talks like he has progressive ideals and delivers no more than any liberal ever has. That means Hillary probably would have done as much by the working people of the United States. And like Hillary – and Bill – none of these three have ever challenged the status quo on American foreign policy that has been in place since the beginning of the Cold War.

Nothing is more important around this little planet than making the world safe for Exxon-Mobil, not democracy. I could add all the variations on that theme; but, if you read and think, listen and learn to what really goes on in the political economy of Earth – you can come up with all the parallels yourself.

Don’t stop! Don’t stop fighting to press the self-proclaimed good guys into living up to the principles they lie about – just because we’re also busy fighting the truly criminal creeps at the same time. We cannot afford to let up. We do not need another Iraq. I do not want to see another VietNam.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 2, 2012 at 6:00 am

NATO supply line back in business — “We are able to make money in bundles” says Taliban commander

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As the United States trumpeted its success in persuading Pakistan to end its seven-month blockade of supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan, another group privately cheered its good fortune: the Taliban.

One of the Afghan war’s great ironies is that both NATO and the Taliban rely on the convoys to fuel their operations — a recipe for seemingly endless conflict.

The insurgents have earned millions of dollars from Afghan security firms that illegally paid them not to attack trucks making the perilous journey from Pakistan to coalition bases throughout Afghanistan — a practice the U.S. has tried to crack down on but admits likely still occurs.

Militants often target the convoys in Pakistan as well, but there have been far fewer reports of trucking companies paying off the insurgents, possibly because the route there is less vulnerable to attack…

“Stopping these supplies caused us real trouble,” a Taliban commander who leads about 60 insurgents in eastern Ghazni province told The Associated Press in an interview. “Earnings dropped down pretty badly. Therefore the rebellion was not as strong as we had planned.”

A second Taliban commander who controls several dozen fighters in southern Kandahar province said the money from security companies was a key source of financing for the insurgency, which uses it to pay fighters and buy weapons, ammunition and other supplies.

“We are able to make money in bundles,” the commander told the AP by telephone. “Therefore, the NATO supply is very important for us.”

“We have had to wait these past seven months for the supply lines to reopen and our income to start again,” said the Taliban commander in Ghazni. “Now work is back to normal.”

Does that give you a clear idea of what an exercise in futility this war is?

Written by Ed Campbell

August 1, 2012 at 6:00 am

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